Banger­nomics

Lux­ury, econ­omy and space… that’s what just £200 can get you

Practical Classics (UK) - - CONTENTS -

The PC team had £200 to spend on a modern clas­sic for daily use. Find out what they chose.

Ev­ery­one seems to be at it. Buy­ing and sell­ing clas­sics is vir­tu­ally a na­tional sport. It is cer­tainly an ob­ses­sion… like gam­bling. We spend hours look­ing at ads, or bid­ding to see if we can find that hid­den gem, the one ev­ery­one else has missed. The re­sult of all of this in­tense ac­tiv­ity is a bit an­noy­ing – all the real bar­gains have gone. Or have they? You see, while those minty fresh, per­fect cars that were badly de­scribed on ebay might have evap­o­rated, it is still pos­si­ble to find clas­sics in great con­di­tion for next to noth­ing. We know, be­cause we’ve just done it. The se­cret is, find oth­er­wise ex­cel­lent cars that need a cou­ple of jobs do­ing – and hag­gle. James Wal­she 1994 Citroën AX 1.4 D I’ve just spent £200 on the most ad­vanced su­per­mini of the Eight­ies. A bold state­ment per­haps, but the AX was a world first for a ma­jor man­u­fac­turer: It was the up­shot of a hugely ex­pen­sive study into aero­dy­nam­ics, fuel ef­fi­ciency and weight-sav­ing. PSA had built a car with Mother Na­ture very much on its mind. Weigh­ing just 640kg, the new model made ex­ten­sive use of plas­tic pan­els, boasted a drag-co­ef­fi­cient of 0.31 and had gen­uine 78mpg ca­pa­bil­ity. Granted, you’d prob­a­bly want to avoid crash­ing into trees and other im­mov­able ob­jects and in this lux­u­ri­ous com­pany,

the in­te­rior of the AX is emp­tier than a na­tur­ists laun­dry bas­ket. Yet prices of this in­no­va­tive and jolly lit­tle Citroën re­main mys­ti­fy­ingly mea­gre.

I was tipped off about my 36,000-mile ex­am­ple by Gra­ham Peake, PC reader and pro­pri­etor of the lo­cal garage in my Glouces­ter­shire home town. He was con­cerned about the fate of the car, which had been owned by the same lo­cal fam­ily from new but was un­likely to pass its next MOT test due to a cracked wind­screen. Con­cerned about who might end up with it (given their low value, AXS are too of­ten bro­ken for spares), I swooped in and promised the owner I would re­turn it to the road and give it the love it de­serves.

Wind­screen re­placed for £75, a thor­ough ser­vice and a fresh MOT saw the to­tal cost of my new car (inc pur­chase price) rise to a pif­fling £326.44. And what a car! The AX is not only clever, it’s ex­tremely lik­able – with pleas­ing de­tails such as large wine bot­tle hold­ers in each door. Per­fectly French. A light­weight (ob­vi­ously) all-alu­minium al­loy 1360cc diesel unit pro­pels the car ef­fort­lessly (you very rarely have to floor it) and it’s sur­pris­ingly ag­ile in the

This clever en­gine pro­duces 78mpg. Yes, 78mpg!

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